They are the happiest kids

Nan Franks, teacher at MHS, talks about her students: Vincent (left) and Michael Riddle (right). (Contributed)

By CATHERINE LEGG / Community Columnist

This is the first year at Montevallo High School for 18-year-old Michael and 20-year-old Vincent Riddle, but they are already a familiar sight in the hallway; surrounded by a group of smiling students exchanging hugs, high fives and fist pumping.

“It’s amazing how much they are loved here at MHS,” said their teacher Nan Franks. “All of the students immediately embraced them and made them part of the school and community. They are the happiest kids I’ve ever been around, and that happiness seems to rub off on others. They want to see everybody every day; and lots of students come by our room just to visit with them.”

Michael and Vincent are part of a special needs class and they spend their days with Franks in activities that enhance their abilities to cope with everyday life. They participate in a main-stream foods and nutrition class as well as a physical education class.

Franks explained that these young men love to be helpful. They pick up paper or a fallen book, and they regularly deliver the newspapers to the classrooms; she says it’s difficult to keep them from being disruptive with their greetings and hugs.

There have been several exciting “firsts” for these fellows at MHS. At the coach’s invitation, they ran out on the field with the team at the beginning of the season’s first football game they saw their first basketball game, and they ate their first cotton candy at their first circus.

There’s a story behind that circus trip: At a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting, the high school’s National Honors Society had won circus tickets given by the Shelby County Reporter as a door prize. In a note of thanks, the NHS advisor, Anita Glover wrote that her students immediately knew who should get the tickets. They all agreed to give them to the well-loved Riddle brothers, who had never been to the circus.

“Those fellows had a great time and so did I,” said Franks, “Vincent set on the edge of his seat the entire performance laughing and squealing. He especially liked the clowns and the elephants, wanted to ride the elephants. Michael really enjoyed the food, ate the entire nights and couldn’t wait to see the dogs perform.”

The enthusiasm, love and happiness shown by, and to, these brothers is like a pebble tossed in the water; its ripple effect touches every student, and teacher, lifting the wonderful MHS spirit to new heights.

Michael and Vincent are the children of Dena Riddle of Montevallo and Vincent Tabb of Brierfield.

Catherine Legg can be reached by email at clegg2@bellsouth.net.